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Letter XXXVII: ad familiares 15.15

Rome, the end of April or the early part of May, 50 B.C. This is Cato's reply to Ep. XXXIV. It is interesting as the only thing we have from his pen. The blunt manner, the brevity of the letter, and the rigidity of its style not only seem characteristic of the writer, but make the letter an excellent foil to the epistle of Cicero, which is remarkably guarded in referring to the matter at issue, is circumstantial in its statements, and varied in its style. The supplicatio was decreed by the senate, but Cato voted against it. For Cicero's opinion of Cato's course, cf. Att. 7.2. 7 qui (i.e. Cato) quidem in me turpiter fuit malevolus: dedit integritatis iustitiae clementiae fidei mihi testimonium, quod non quaerebam; quod postulabam, id negavit.

quod ... me ... hortatur: the use of two accusatives is very common in archaic Latin after verbs of seeking, warning, etc., especially when one of the accusatives is a neuter pronoun (cf. e.g. Ter. And. 918; Heaut. 353); and this construction, which is perhaps a colloquial survival in the prose of the Ciceronian period (cf. Reisig-Schmalz, Lat. Syn. note 562), is frequent in the Letters; cf. multa deos venerati sunt, Fam. 6.7.2; illud te peto, Ep. LII. 2.

virtutem ... administrari : this would be a very harsh expression for Cicero, but is perhaps not to be changed in a letter fromfato.

togati: in agreement with the genitive implied in tuam.

ut innocentia, etc.: in his summary of Cicero's achievements, Cato bluntly disregards his claim that he has barred the progress of the Parthians and driven them back (cf. Ep. XXXIV. 7), and in fact practically ignores his military exploits in general. innocentia refers to abstinence from corrupt use of power for personal gain.

Ariobarzanis: cf. Ep. XXXIV. 6.

decreto : cf. Fam. 8. II. 2 tantum Catoni (Hirrus) adsensus est, qui (i.e. Cato) de te locutus honorfice non decrerat supplicationes.

nihil fortuito: sc. factum est from provisum est.

sed provisum est: i.e., nihil provisum est, used carelessly for sed omnia provisa sunt.

referre acceptum: a business expression, meaning, to set down to one's credit.

praerogativam: the vote of the first century in the comitia, the centuria praerogativa, was a pretty sure indication of the result of the entire election, so that praerogativa means often, as here, sure indication.

potius mavis: such pleonasm is not uncommon in colloquial Latin; cf. mihi magis lubet cum probis potius quam cunt improbis vivere vanidicis, Plaut. Trin. 274; magis decorumst libertum potius quam patronum onus in via portare, Asin. 689; arbitror malle te quietam senectutem et honorificam potius agere quam sollicitam, Att. 14.13 A. 3 (from Antony). Cf. also “I preferred to go rather than to stay.”

contra consuetudinem meam: contrary to his habit as an individual, and to the teaching of his fellow-philosophers the Stoics.

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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 6.7.2
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 8
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 14.13
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 7.2
    • Plautus, Trinummus, 2.1
    • Plautus, Asinaria, 3.3
    • Terence, Andria, 5.4
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